Endgame

Endgame : crikey. In the post-World Cup euphoria, it really is just too easy to forget quite how far we’ve come.

Endgame is a real-life political thriller that charts the efforts of Michael Young, unlikely hero, to facilitate secret talks between the bitterest of enemies: the ANC government-in-exile and members of the Afrikaner elite. Against a backdrop of brute violence, thuggish intimidation, smuggled correspondence, surveillance, counter-espionage, and the bullish extremism of members of both groups, Young’s idealistic negotiations uncovered a mutual sense of humanity and respect that ultimately resulted in the unbanning of opposition parties, the release of Nelson Mandela (belated happy bday, Madiba), dismantling of apartheid and the birth of the miraculous, unlikely, vibrant nation of modern South Africa.

So: “crikey” was what went through my mind all the way through the film. I kept wanting to grab the air stewardess and say “Did you see this? Have you seen this?” and share my amazement and excitement. I’m not sure if it’s actually great cinema, but I found it powerful, personal and passionate – and I’m increasingly believing that that is in fact what great cinema’s about. If you’re South African, it’s a must-see.

Endgame – shot and beautifully brushstroked in drained, grainy, 80’s home-movie style – jumps from South Africa, to the ANC hq in Lusaka, to London, with the stand out location being the elegant Mells Park near Frome in Somerset, where the meetings took place (though this was actually shot somewhere in Berkshire – I’m trying to find out where.) There’s a scene on the rugby field at Stellenbosch High School too; that one I recognised for myself.